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Photo of the 2014 Illumination Ceremony, by the author.

Time to get festive: your guide to lights, trees, and carols

By Hannah Manning on November 27, 2015




After moving to Ottawa from BC nearly a decade ago, Hannah Manning has made it her mission to explore Ottawa. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

Ottawa is getting colder and the snow is coming, but don’t hibernate just yet! There’s lots going this December so bundle up, grab some friends and go enjoy the city!

  • Every year, hundreds of thousands of lights are strung up in the nation’s capital and across the country for Christmas Lights across Canada. Kick off the holiday season in the nation’s capital with the illumination ceremony at Parliament on Dec. 2 at 7pm featuring fireworks, Beavertails and carollers. And in case you missed this summer’s light show, there will be a special winter show projected onto Parliament from 5:30-11pm every day.
  • While you’re by Parliament, stop in at the Château Laurier to marvel at the Trees of Hope, a fundraiser for the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. You can also wander down to the Byward Market and enjoy a free wagon ride and Christmas carollers every weekend throughout December.

    The National Gallery's tree, photo from their Facebook

    The National Gallery’s tree, photo from their Facebook

  • If outdoors events aren’t your thing, head to the National Gallery of Canada. Every Thursday, admission is free from 5-8pm. On Dec. 3, you can take part in the #NGCTree Lighting while enjoying music and hot chocolate. The tree will be on display until Jan. 3 so make sure you stop in before then!
  • Mayor Jim Watson will be hosting the 15th annual Christmas Celebration on Dec. 5 from 2-6pm where you can get your fill of skating, beavertails and marshmallows. If you need to warm up, pop inside city hall to meet Santa!
  • The National Arts Centre has something for everyone this Christmas season, starting with The Nutcracker Dec. 2-6. Check their calendar for more information on holiday events. For all the students out there, take a break from your exams and try out the Live Rush program at the NAC. Tickets for some shows are available online or at the box office the day before the show for only $15. [Editor’s note: Don’t miss our interview with three of the young dancers who are performing in The Nutcracker!]
  • If you just can’t get enough of the holiday lights across the city, take a trip to Upper Canada Village for their Alight at Night Festival. Don your favourite ugly Christmas sweater and grab a photo with Santa – he’ll be at Upper Canada Village for photos from Dec. 4 to 23.